Week 7 Start em Sit em: Jared Goff is still leading the best offense in football, even with last week’s clunker. See who else is trending up (or down) this week. For more start-sit advice, send a tweet to Paul at @pauliep97.
Start ‘em: Quarterbacks
Stud Alert: Jared Goff, Rams
If you started Jared Goff in Week 6, you have my pity. Goff was bad — 201 yards, 0 TD , 1 INT — but all signs point toward this game being a fluke: the weather was bad, Todd Gurley had over 200 yards rushing, and Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp weren’t 100%. This is still the best offense in football, and, even with last week’s clunker, Goff is still averaging over 20 FPPG. Don’t hesitate to start him this week against San Francisco’s 26th ranked defense.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
Although his own team lost on Sunday, Jameis Winston undoubtedly propelled many fantasy squads to victory with a 395-yard, 4-TD performance. Moving forward, Winston might be in the perfect situation to deliver solid performances week in and week out. The defense is atrocious, the running game is a non-factor, and Winston is surrounded by talented pass-catchers. The matchup this week is tough — Cleveland is 6th against opposing fantasy quarterbacks —but the passing volume alone should propel Winston to another solid outing. It’s also worth noting that Cleveland has allowed an average of 24.6 points to opposing quarterbacks on the road, while allowing only 9.6 at home. The sample size is small, but the Cleveland defense has been beatable away from their home stadium.
Baker Mayfield, Browns
In 3 ½ games, we’ve seen good and bad from Baker Mayfield. He’s averaging 290 passing yards per game and he’s thrown 4 TDs, but he’s also failed to complete 60% of his passes in any of his starts. However, we could see his best game to date in Week 7. Now, I’m not going to suggest that you should rush out to get Mayfield and start him over other established quarterbacks, but if you have Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, or Ben Roethlisberger, three quarterbacks that are on byes this week, Mayfield should be a viable streaming option against a Buccaneers defense that ranks dead last against fantasy quarterbacks. For what it’s worth, Mayfield could actually be usable for the next few weeks, as he faces the Steelers, Chiefs, and Falcons, who are all bottom five against the pass.
Other names to consider: Andy Dalton, Bengals; Mitchell Trubisky, Bears
Sit ‘em: Quarterbacks
Deshaun Watson, Texans
Watson is currently the 10th ranked quarterback in fantasy, which is still in starter territory, but a far cry from the 2nd overall quarterback he was drafted to be. Despite some shaky real-life play, Watson has been usable for fantasy purposes in most weeks. Coming off his worst game of the year, however, Watson has to be downgraded. In Week 7, Watson, the most pressured quarterback in the league, will face a Jaguars defense that sports the league’s highest pressure rate. This is a recipe for disaster. Look for other options this week.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: never chase points. Despite a nightmare matchup, Dak Prescott managed to post a top-10 fantasy week for the first time in his last 14 starts, but, unless Dak can rush for 81 yards and a TD every week, he is unlikely to replicate this performance. Remember, he is still averaging just 190 passing yards per game —including 183 in his “monster game” in Week 6–and he has only 7 TD passes through six games this year. Leave Prescott on the bench, or more preferably, the waiver wire, in Week 7.
Matthew Stafford, Lions
Bye weeks may force Matthew Stafford into your lineup, but I don’t expect a big week from the Lions’ QB. Throughout his career, Stafford has always been a volume play — he has seven straight seasons with over 4,000 passing yards after all. This season, however, the Lions are around league average in pass attempts, passing yards, and red zone passing attempts, which means the matchup matters more for Stafford than it would have in years past. The Dolphins, who Stafford will face in Week 7, are allowing the 7th-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks. With Brock Osweiler under center for the Dolphins, the Lions may be able to take the lead early and exploit Miami’s questionable run defense in the second half. Lower expectations this week.
Other names to avoid: Blake Bortles, Jaguars; C.J. Beathard, 49ers
Start ‘em: Running Backs
Stud Alert: Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
Christian McCaffrey has been a fantasy stud all-year long. He’s highlighted his dual-threat ability with a 14-catch game and a game with over 180 rushing yards. Now, if you own McCaffrey, you’re starting him no matter what, but I’m here to tell you that, despite a scary-looking matchup against the Eagles’ top-5 rushing defense, “CMC” is still in for a huge week. A closer look at the numbers reveals that the Eagles have been gashed by pass-catching RBs this season. Nyheim Hines caught 5 for 25, Dion Lewis caught 9 for 66, and, in Week 6, Saquon Barkley caught 9 passes for 99 yards. It’s also worth noting that McCaffrey caught 10 passes for 56 yards and a TD against the Eagles last season. He could easily replicate those numbers this week. Start McCaffrey with confidence.
Kerryon Johnson, Lions
There is no denying the talent of Kerryon Johnson. He’s averaging 5.7 YPC, good for 4th in the league, and he’s caught 13 passes with 0 drops, so he’s making the most of his opportunities. The only problem for Kerryon has been volume. For whatever reason, the coaching staff insists on giving LeGarrette Blount the ball 8 times a game for a robust 2.5 YPC, while Theo Riddick absorbs a large percentage of the passing work. However, there is hope. Johnson’s usage has gradually increased, and, against a weak Miami run defense, Johnson has a chance to break out. Riddick has also been ruled out this week, so don’t be afraid to throw him in your flex spot.
Tevin Coleman, Falcons
With the news that Devonta Freeman has been placed on injured reserve, Tevin Coleman’s value has increased dramatically. Rookie Ito Smith will have a larger role than many expected coming into the season, but Coleman will be the starter for at least the next eight weeks. While Coleman hasn’t been very efficient this season — 3.7 YPC – he’s in the top 20 in terms of snap percentage and carries. He’s firmly in starter territory against a Giants’ rush defense that ranks in the bottom ten.
Other names to consider: LeSean McCoy, Bills; Matt Breida, 49ers
Sit ‘em: Running Backs
Jordan Howard, Bears
Yikes. Jordan Howard’s last two games have been absolutely brutal. Actually, his whole season has been a trainwreck. He hasn’t topped 70 yards since Week 1 and he has just 1 TD this season. He’s a non-factor in the passing game, and, as Tarik Cohen continues to emerge, Howard’s volume should only decrease. The Bears should be throwing frequently this week as they attempt to keep up with a soaring Patriots’ offense, which should, once again, mean a healthy dose of Tarik Cohen. Bench Howard if you have other options.
Mark Ingram, Saints
Two weeks ago, Mark Ingram made a triumphant return from suspension with 18 touches for 73 yards and 2 TDs. That’s all fine and good, but Alvin Kamara only touched the ball 9 times, and the Saints were defending a lead for much of the game, which allowed them to run the ball a ton. Those trends are unlikely to hold this week against the Ravens, who rank 1st against fantasy RBs this season. Look for Kamara’s usage to go up, and for Ingram’s efficiency to drop in this matchup. Lower your expectations.
Austin Ekeler, Chargers
“Austin Ekeler is currently the 17th best RB in fantasy” sounds like a sentence I would write in some alternate timeline where Melvin Gordon was injured or traded or abducted by aliens. Strangely enough, Gordon is healthy and Ekeler just keeps on producing. He’s made the most of his opportunities with 3 TDs and an insane 6.4 YPC, but it’s still hard to rely on a player that averages just 9 touches a game. Avoid Ekeler this week in what could be a low-scoring game against the Titans.
Other names to avoid: Alex Collins, Ravens; Isaiah Crowell, Jets
Start ‘em: Wide Receivers
Stud Alert: Jarvis Landry, Browns
After a 2-catch, 11-yard game in Week 6, you might be ready to press the panic button on Jarvis Landry. Don’t do it. I know the huge stat-lines haven’t been there, but keep in mind that Landry is 6th in the league in targets, 6th in target share, and he’s receiving 47% of the Browns’ red zone targets, good for 1st in the league. Those are big time numbers. If Landry can develop any sort of chemistry with Baker Mayfield, he has a chance to bounce back in a big way against a Buccaneers defense that is 2nd-worst against fantasy wide receivers.
John Brown, Ravens
After a pair of poor performances, it’s fair to wonder if you can trust John Brown. While I don’t view him as an every-week starter, I certainly believe that Brown is playable under the right circumstances. Last week, Michael Crabtree outperformed Brown due to a favorable matchup with cornerback Malcolm Butler, and then Brown was game-scripted out as the Ravens tried to defend a large lead. This week, however, Crabtree should see coverage from Marshon Lattimore, leaving Brown free to exploit New Orleans’ suspect secondary. Meanwhile, the Saints’ powerful offense should keep the Ravens passing well into the 4th quarter. Start Brown this week.
Kenny Golladay, Lions
Coming into the season, Golladay was viewed as the clear 3rd option in the Lions’ passing attack. Through five games, he’s leapfrogged Marvin Jones in terms of targets and yards, and he continues to produce consistently week after week. Golladay has racked up at least 7 targets in four out of five games this season, and has scored a touchdown in three out of his last four. He’ll look to build upon his hot start against the Dolphins this week, who have been tough against the pass. With Marvin Jones likely to be blanketed by shutdown corner Xavien Howard, Golladay is a solid start.
Other names to consider: Jermaine Kearse, Jets; Brandin Cooks, Rams
Sit ‘em: Wide Receivers
Sterling Shepard, Giants
Really, this boils down to a simple question: is Evan Engram playing? If the answer is no, then go ahead and slide Shepard into your lineup. If the answer is yes, you should probably look elsewhere. In Weeks 1 and 2, when Engram was healthy, Shepard didn’t crack double-digit fantasy points. In Weeks 3 through 5, with Engram out, here are Shepard’s totals: 20.0, 23.7, 11.5. He is undoubtedly a talented player, but with Beckham, Barkley, and Engram on the field, there are too many mouths to feed. Considering Engram is on track to play in Week 7, Shepard should be demoted to the bench.
Will Fuller, Texans
After racking up 17 receptions and scoring 3 TDs in his first three games, Will Fuller has only 4 catches for 48 yards in his last two. This dip in production has corresponded with the emergence of upstart rookie Keke Coutee, who has come on strong after being inactive for the first handful of games. The presence of a competent third pass-catcher is enough to downgrade Fuller, but in a tough matchup against Jacksonville corner A.J. Bouye, the best option is to avoid him altogether.
Corey Davis, Titans
If the Titans had a good quarterback, Corey Davis could quickly find himself listed alongside players like Antonio Brown and Adam Thielen. Alas, Davis is stuck with Marcus Mariota under center, rendering him basically unusable for the time being. The one positive for Davis is that he’s receiving the 3rd highest target share in the league — 30.4% of his team’s targets. The problem is that he has caught just 54% of those targets due to the inaccuracy of Marcus Mariota. Until the Titans’ offense shows some level of competence, avoid Davis.
Other names to avoid: Chester Rogers, Colts; Tyrell Williams, Chargers
Start ‘em: Tight Ends
Evan Engram, Giants
After missing the better part of four games, Evan Engram is finally ready to return to action this week against the Falcons on Monday Night Football. The Giants, who currently sit at 1-5, could certainly use an offensive boost, and Engram is likely to slide right back into his regular role as a top-10 tight end option. For what it’s worth, the Falcons have allowed similarly athletic tight ends, such as Zach Ertz, Tyler Eifert, and O.J. Howard, to have success, so the matchup is not a concern.
David Njoku, Browns
I’ve already mentioned Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry as potential starts this week, so why not throw another Brown into the mix? Basically, you should start any player that will be throwing or catching passes against the Buccaneers. It also helps that Njoku’s targets and receptions have increased in nearly every game this season and he caught his first touchdown of the year in Week 6. He’s a must-start against the league’s worst tight-end defense.
Other names to consider: C.J. Uzomah, Bengals; Austin Hooper, Falcons
Sit ‘em: Tight Ends
Greg Olsen, Panthers
Greg Olsen put up a pedestrian statline in his return to action in Week 6, and he’s unlikely to be better this week against the Eagles, who have allowed the fewest points to tight ends this season. Considering how much success wide receivers and pass-catching running backs have had against Philadelphia, Olsen might be the odd man out in Week 7.
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers
After I pounded the table for Brate last week, he caught just one pass. Luckily it was a touchdown, so, if you followed my advice (a questionable decision to be sure), you weren’t completely screwed. The thought was that Jameis Winston would look for Brate as he had in years past, but, in Week 6, O.J. Howard was clearly the preferred target of the two. If that connection continues, Brate will be nothing more than a touchdown-dependent desperation play.
Other names to avoid: Vernon Davis, Redskins; Geoff Swaim, Cowboys